(Terrible iPhone pic)
The From Scratch Club is a group of women in the Capital Region, NY where I live. They focus a lot on homesteading and supporting local farms/businesses. They offer various technique classes like curing bacon, making dairy items, and fermenting. They have a book club. They have a blog. They even have a podcast.
What really intrigued me was their focus on the local community. Not to throw a pity party, but I moved to the area mainly for work and my boyfriend at the time (my husband now). I had a pretty great core group of friends that also congregated here after college, but other those and my coworkers/friends in the area, I didn't really know many people. When my Husband and I decided this is where we planned on settling down and finally bought a house last year, I really wanted to become a member of my new community.
When I learned about their Food Swaps, that are actually 3 miles from my house, I knew I had to just try it out. What did I really have to lose?
I wanted to make something amazing. I chose to make a few batches of my Salted Caramel Bars and several jars of Apple Cider Syrup per Marisa's blog - Food in Jars.
Pardon all of the terrible iPhone pictures. My real camera was dead, naturally, and I wanted to take pictures of everything before I dug in, which I promptly did.
I got to the swap and was greeted warmly by several of the swap helpers. Swelpers? I first met Chris at the check-in table, and she gave me a great intro. Then Deanna walked me over to a table and helped me set-up. Seriously, they were so nice.
I was a little nervous to participate in the swap. I read through various blog posts about strategy, best practices, do's and don'ts, etc. The truth is... you don't need to know anything to go to this swap. The coordinator of the swap was Chris and she is a great hostess.
After I set up my area, complete with samples (**A MUSTTTTTTT**), I walked around and checked out everyone's display and did a little tasting. I was so impressed with all of the time, effort, and care that others put into their swap display. Some people went all out!!
This is Chris, the woman in charge of it all. She went over some general FSC housekeeping items, discussed upcoming classes, the current book club reading Handmade Pantry, and other items.
I didn't realize how much more this event was than just a Food Swap. We had plenty of time to mingle with other swappers, talk to the FSC contributors like Deanna and Chris as I mentioned, but the club also arranged for two guest speakers. How awesome!?
The first was a representative from the Schenectady Green Market, she gave us some great history on the market as well as its plans for the future. I have only been to the market once, but I really need to get their every Sunday. There is no excuse!! The second guest speaker was Marty Butts from Small Potatoes. They also had several FREE raffles going on, one of which I was a BIG WINNER. I won a 1 hour consultation with Marty. Marty and I hit it off right off the bat, because he is a lover of all things caramel. It was only fitting than I won the giveaway.
I won't go over all of the rules of the swap, as FSC's website goes over it very well. But, I will say, my salted caramels were quite the hit. So much so, that my swap card was totally completely full, and I even had people sign-up on the back of my card.
Needless to say, I am very happy that everyone liked what I made. I can proudly say that I swapped all 10 bags of Salted Caramel Bars, all 4 jars of Apple Cider Syrup, and I also swapped the remaining samples of the caramels and the opened sampled jar of apple cider syrup. I totally forgot to keep an Apple Cider Syrup for myself. Wooops. I don't even think that my Husband got the chance to try it.
Anyway, here is my loot!
(Orange and Lemon extracts!)
I want to thank everyone so much for making my first swap so successful and enjoyable! You were all so great and had amazing products to offer. I particularly loved the two pretzels that I just devoured while writing this post. I wish I had all of your blogs to link to, but sadly I don't. Leave me a comment or shoot me an e-mail.
ALSO ---- In your Salted Caramel Bar packages you should notice two different types of bars. I've made both kinds before.. one is a softer caramel bar and the other is a harder caramel bar. Which one do you like better???? I, personally, like the softer caramel. what did you think my little guinea pigs??
Overall, I am happy with my display. I would like to beef it up a little more, i.e. no Daisy sourcream container for spoons.
Everyone should seriously do a food swap. Just do it.